As filmmaker Robert Orlando and I began discussing the possibility of a blog series exploring his previous movie, Apostle Paul: A Polite Bribe, extra material connected with the film, and the sequel Apostle Paul: The Final Verdict that will be out later this year, a set of three letters grabbed my attention: APB. In this context, of course, it was a convenient abbreviation for the title of the movie, A Polite Bribe. But outside of that context, it more frequently abbreviates “All Points Bulletin,” the notification police send out when they are looking for someone.
What a perfect play on words for a set of movies that is an expression of Rob’s own intellectual and spiritual journey that has focused on a quest to recover and understand the historical figure of Saul of Tarsus, Paul the Apostle. Rob is putting out an “APB” on the real Apostle Paul, the one of enormous influence, yet one that remains largely unknown.
I’ve felt it a privilege to get to know Rob, starting with that first movie, and then as he made a guest appearance at Butler University to serve on a Q&A about the film after a showing of it on campus, as well as taking time to talk to students in my class on Paul and the Early Church. I was even more honored when he interviewed me as part of his work on the sequel, Apostle Paul: The Final Verdict. Scholars who work with filmmakers know that sometimes they capture the gist of what we’re trying to say, or what scholars in general have to say, and sometimes they don’t. Rob is in that rare category of filmmakers and authors (he didn’t just make a movie, but also wrote an accompanying book) who have charted a distinctive enough course, and yet one sufficiently well informed by previous scholarship, so as to come up with results that subsequent scholars have considered it worth citing and building upon.
Apostle Paul: A Polite Bribe focuses on Paul’s dramatic final act to gather a collection from the Gentile churches, and his journey to bring it to the Jewish-Christian church in Jerusalem. It explores the fallout that ensued, and asks whether this action of Paul’s might not provide an important key, if not indeed the decisive key, to understanding Paul and his sense of what he was called to do.
Here’s the first of ten clips that I’ll be sharing on the blog over the coming weeks and commenting on. This first one focuses in on that key theme, the collection. How aware were you of this aspect of Paul’s activity? Did you regard it as tangential, or as central to Paul’s mission as he understood it? If the former, then I’d encourage you to watch the movie, and then share whether it changes your mind in any way with respect to this key question. Hopefully this clip will persuade you to do so if you haven’t already.
And for those who may have missed it, here is the Q&A from Butler University, moderated by me with Robert as well as Perry Kea from the University of Indianapolis as panelists:
If you haven’t seen them, check out my earlier review and many other posts about Apostle Paul: A Polite Bribe. See also the video Mark Goodacre shared of the screening at Duke University.
Stay tuned Thursdays for the next ten weeks as I explore the movie, rarely and never seen supplementary material, and much more! And if you’ve never seen Apostle Paul: A Polite Bribe, or this post has made you want to see it again, you can do so through Vimeo’s on demand service: